We sit down with Light Installation artist Nick Walters and unpack what it is to straddle the worlds of innovation and inclusivity, especially in a tightly controlled city like York.

We’re looking forward to our collaboration with Nick for 2020’s ‘York Design Week’. More glittering, refulgent mischief to follow. In the meantime, here’s an interview recorded on a crisp September morning at SPARK:YORK.

How do you see cameras and photography competing with other visual tools? What are the pros and cons?

I don’t see cameras & photography in competition with other tools, but I’m not a photographer. I’ve carried a camera & a notebook with me for years, both are essential tools for me to record ideas.

Photos are important as records of the final artwork. Increasingly photos are a means to judge the success of a project,  as seen on instagram etc. This tends to skew artworks towards the bright & shiny rather than the quiet & thoughtful. Fortunately for me, I like bright & shiny.

The way I work, photographs, video, CGI, animations, text all get mushed into the mix and regurgitated as themed digital projections. The interaction between the projections and the sculptural screens is equally as important to me.

York is known for its heritage. Does this benefit or weaken your approach to innovation?

Visually, it’s beneficial, I like the contrast between ephemeral technology and the century old buildings.  York isn’t a blank canvas, there’s always something to respond to.  There is definitely a more reverential approach to projects and events in York than, say, Leeds or Bristol.

How important is it to have a sense of humour with this approach in this particular time?

Humour is very important at the moment. Anger is justified, but there has to be some relief, some hope for the future. 

Humour and art, can be playful, childlike, exaggerating and distorting conventional ideas, sometimes to make a point.

What are your plans for the future?

KaWildoscope: a digital projection installation in the According to McGee gallery as part of York Design Week, collaborating closely with New Visuality.

I have loads of plans in the pipeline. I’m planning some brightly coloured prints using computer carved wooden printing blocks. I have in mind all spinning fabric columns with responsive lighting, and I’mooking for a large atrium / stairwell or a suitable copse of trees.

There’s the idea of a picnic table as musical instrument and light installation.

There’s the shopping trolley with a whale soundsystem.

There’s Inflatable duck bagpipes using vacuum cleaner and 100 year old organ pipes from a Welsh chapel. I’d love to try busking with it!

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